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Shah v. Moneygram Payment Systems, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

September 19, 2017

AZKI SHAH and LENORA FRANKLIN WELLS PLAINTIFFS
v.
MONEYGRAM PAYMENT SYSTEMS, INC. DEFENDANT

          ORDER DENYING REMAND

          DEBRA M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Azki Shah and Lenora Franklin-Wells' motion to remand. Doc. #7.

         I Procedural History

         On September 12, 2016, Azki Shah and Lenora Franklin-Wells filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Coahoma County, Mississippi, against MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc., alleging that MoneyGram failed to transfer $1, 600 in funds from Shah to Franklin-Wells, as directed by Shah. Doc. #2 at ¶ II. In the complaint, the plaintiffs:

pray[] for a judgment against Defendant for general damages for severe emotional distress and mental suffering in the sum of $100, 000.00; and for breach of contract in the sum of $1600.00; court costs, interest of 8% per annum on said $1600.00; and attorney's fees; and $1, 000, 000.00 in punitive damages, and for such other and further relief as the court may deem proper.

Id. at 5.

         On October 6, 2016, MoneyGram filed a notice of removal in this Court alleging diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Doc. #1. Approximately two weeks later, on October 19, 2016, the plaintiffs filed “Plaintiff's [sic] Answer to Notice of Removal.” Doc. #6. In the “Answer, ” the plaintiffs admit that complete diversity exists but deny the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold. Compare Doc. #6 at ¶¶ II, VI with Doc. #1 at ¶¶ 2, 6.

         On October 20, 2016, Shah and Franklin-Wells moved to remand this action to state court on the ground that the amount in controversy is less than $75, 000. Doc. #7 at 1. MoneyGram responded on October 28, 2016. Doc. #9. The plaintiffs did not reply.

         II Standard of Review

         “Under the federal removal statute, a civil action may be removed from a state court to a federal court on the basis of diversity. This is so because the federal court has original subject matter jurisdiction over such cases.” Int'l Energy Ventures Mgmt., L.L.C. v. United Energy Grp., Ltd., 818 F.3d 193, 199 (5th Cir. 2016). “The party seeking to remove bears the burden of showing that federal jurisdiction exists and that removal was proper. Any ambiguities are construed against removal and in favor of remand to state court.” Scarlott v. Nissan N. Am., Inc., 771 F.3d 883, 887 (5th Cir. 2014) (internal citations omitted). In this regard, “[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         Where, as here, multiple plaintiffs assert claims against a single defendant, “[t]he general rule is that each plaintiff who invokes diversity of citizenship jurisdiction must allege damages that meet the dollar requirement of § 1332.” Allen v. R & H Oil & Gas Co., 63 F.3d 1326, 1330 (5th Cir. 1995). However, aggregation “of damages allegedly owed to separate plaintiffs … may be permitted in the limited situation where two or more plaintiffs unite to enforce a single title or right in which they have a common and undivided interest.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

         III Analysis

         Diversity jurisdiction requires that there be: (1) complete diversity between the parties; and (2) an amount in controversy in excess of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332; Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996). There is no dispute that the parties in this action are completely diverse. Rather, the only question is whether the requisite amount in controversy has been met.

         For diversity jurisdiction to exist, the “matter in controversy [must] exceed[] the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). MoneyGram argues that the amount in controversy requirement is met because “it was (and is) facially apparent from the complaint, at the time of removal, that the amount in controversy greatly exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interests and costs.” Doc. #10 at 1. Specifically, MoneyGram points ...


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